1 Department of Chemistry, Science and Technology, Aarhus University2 Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY)3 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Science and Technology, Aarhus University4 Fritz Haber Institute of the MPG, Germany5 FOM Institute AMOLF, The Netherlands6 Max Planck Advanced Study Group at CFEL7 Department of Physics, Lund University8 Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL), DESY, 22607 Hamburg9 Linac Coherent Light Source, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park, California10 PNSensor GmbH, Germany11 Max Planck Semiconductor Laboratory, Germany12 Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, Germany13 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Arizona State University, Tempe14 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Science and Technology, Aarhus University15 Department of Chemistry, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
We give a detailed account of the theoretical analysis and the experimental results of an x-ray-diffraction experiment on quantum-state selected and strongly laser-aligned gas-phase ensembles of the prototypical large asymmetric rotor molecule 2,5-diiodobenzonitrile, performed at the Linac Coherent Light Source [Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 083002 (2014)]. This experiment is the first step toward coherent diffractive imaging of structures and structural dynamics of isolated molecules at atomic resolution, i. e., picometers and femtoseconds, using x-ray free-electron lasers.